Thoughts from the Road: Providence Survived Marquette

And I survived 95 South last night. Here are some of my thoughts from the extra long drive home last night:

  • Lost in the frenzy of the Marquette comeback attempt in the second half was that Tyler Harris had a very impressive first 20 minutes. The redshirt junior led all scorers with 11 points on 4/6 shooting from the field and 2/2 from the free throw line. He also had zero turnovers, 3 rebounds and an assist in 15 minutes of 1st half action. That’s a pretty good half for anyone.

    Harris was coming off his best scoring output since the last time the Friars played Villanova so it was very encouraging to see him play well during the first half of the Marquette game. The second half was a slightly different story with just 2 points on 1/7 shooting in 16 minutes but he did grab another 3 rebounds, drop off another assists and only had 2 turnovers. Harris is one of the more polarizing figures on the current Providence team and I find myself defending him in conversations frequently by responding to a flurry of negativity with “yea, but…”. It will be interesting to see if he plays like the first half, second half or somewhere in between down the stretch in March.
  • Paschal Chukwu played a very solid game. The 28 minutes he played is basically 3 times his season average and he was able to stay relatively out of foul trouble while putting up 8 points, 6 rebounds, 1 block and 1 steal. Those numbers look pretty good and when you combine that with him being +18 and Luke Fischer struggling you’d probably say he had a great game. I’m not quite ready to go that far. Chukwu’s struggles continue to be with his size. Truly it’s his lack of size or bulk that is truly the issue. More times than I could count I would see Fischer flashing his hands to a teammate with great position in the middle of the lane while Chukwu struggled to push him out. Fortunately the ball rarely went inside but it’s clear Chukwu has a ways to go physically. That move he made while trapped under the basket to pirouette a few times to get an open reverse layup was a thing of beauty and plays like that are why people believe Chukwu will be an absolute stud. I’m with those people. But Chukwu needs to gain A LOT more weight and muscle before he’s close to there.
  • The kind of team that should scare Providence fans the most in the NCAA Tournament team is a team full of quick athletes that can shoot the ball. St. John’s comes to mind as a team with quick athletes that Providence has obviously struggled against but a team that can also shoot the ball well could create a real problem for a Providence team that seems to be headed for a 4-7 seed.
  • I don’t know if Kris Dunn will be a first round pick in the 2015 NBA Draft. I don’t know if he will return to Providence next season. I do know Dunn is a very fun player to watch. I do know that there are more than a few NBA teams that agree. There were about 8 NBA scouts in attendance at Sunday’s game. Steve Wojciechowski compared Dunn to John Wall during his postgame remarks. One of the team’s at the game was the Wizards. Maybe they agree. Dunn is having an all-time season at Providence. Yes, he has an alarmingly high turnover/game number. His 117 turnovers this season currently rank him as having the 6th most turnovers in a season in Providence College history. But what you’ll also see on that linked page is that his 209 assists this season rank him as having the 8th most assists in a season in Providence College history. He has a legitimate chance to crack the top 5 on that single season list. Dunn also currently has the 12th most steals in a single season in Providence College history. He’s tied with Delray Brooks with 79 steals. Brooks did that in the 1987-88 season. This is another category that Dunn has a chance to end up in the top 5 of all-time at PC. Dunn is also climbing up some all-time lists. He currently ranks 6th in career assists/game at 5.40 and 6th in career steals/game at 2.02. Whatever Dunn decides to do between now and the NBA Draft make sure you appreciate the season he is having and the career he has had so far in a Providence uniform. Another guy in his original recruiting class never gave himself that opportunity.
  • Speaking of guys having great seasons and careers, what else can you say about LaDontae Henton? Henton has been a warrior, a junkyard dog and “a man possessed” as Ed Cooley put it after Sunday’s game that saw Henton go for 25 points and 15 rebounds in 39 minutes. Henton is 17 points away from 2,000 for his career, which would make him only the second player in PC history to score 2,000 points and grab 1,000 rebounds in a career. The only man on top of that mountain right now is Ryan Gomes. Henton’s Senior Day is Saturday against Butler. I really hope the fans show up in the same numbers they did for the Marquette game, which was a sellout. Here is where Henton currently ranks on some all-time lists at PC:
  • A few of us were talking in the media room after the game and wondering why Providence opted to give out those “Thank You Seniors” t-shirts a week before Senior Day on March 7th. IMG_5450.JPGThen it dawned on me: school isn’t in session on March 7th. Providence College’s “Spring Break” begins on March 6th and so it looks like the section of their peers will be empty when Carson Desrosiers, Harris and Henton are honored pregame. That’s sad. I fully realize Providence College cannot plan their academic calendar around the basketball season, especially since the 2014-15 Big East schedule wasn’t released until September 9, 2014 but having Senior Day with no students doesn’t seem right. I’m sure PC Athletics will figure a way to fill the vacant student section but it won’t be the same. As one person in the room queried last night “when is Providence going to figure out that their Spring Break should be the week of the Big East Tournament?” Hopefully soon. It won’t be until 2018 though as the 2015-16 and 2016-17 academic calendars are also set with Spring Break the first week of March in 2016 and March 4th-12 in 2017.

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